Portuguese Peri Peri Chicken (Frango piri piri)

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This authentic Portuguese peri peri chicken is an easy recipe that has a lot of spiciness and flavor in every bite. If you like Nando’s peri peri chicken you will love the original recipe way more.

peri peri chicken

Nando’s has already made famous peri peri rice and this peri peri chicken. But did you know that this is a traditional Portuguese recipe?

This recipe has more than a century of history and is part of the delicious Portuguese cuisine.

Summarizing, peri peri chicken is 100% Portuguese 🙂

What is peri peri ?

Peri peri, piri piri or pili pili is a chili that was originally produced in Mozambique and was exported by Portuguese explorers back in the 20th century.

It is an elongated bright red pepper that grows in small bushes.

Its original name is African Bird’s eye / African devil. But it’s less known by those names in Europe.

I’m telling you all this because sometimes it can be hard to find in the US. So, a good way to find it is by going to a grocery store that is specialized in African food. It’s highly probable that they have Piri piri but they name it African Bird’s eye.

Here in Portugal, I can find it in almost every supermarket. But, most of my readers are from the US and … I got your back, my geeky reader!

You can use a Thai chili as a substitute. They are pretty similar in flavor and spicy intensity. This is by far my favorite substitute.

In case you can’t find Thai chili either, you can use other tabasco pepper, but the flavor will be slightly different. Tabasco pepper is less spicy than peri-peri. So, I would add 8 tabasco peppers instead of 6. 

If you are confused about the spiciness level in your chilies, I recommend you to read Isabela Eats’ guide about the Scoville scale and how to pick the best hot pepper for your recipes.

How do you make peri-peri sauce? 

This is a throw-all-the-ingredients-into-the-blender-and-youre-done kind of sauce. And, guess what? they are my favorite type of sauce. I’m a simple girl that wants to spend more time eating than cooking.

So the list of ingredients for a peri-peri sauce is pretty easy to find:

  • 6 African bird eyes (or Thai chili) 
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (or 2 tbsp lime juice) 
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • ½ tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme

Blend and you are done.

The rest is just cover the seared chicken legs with the sauce and bake skin up for 35 minutes at 350ºF (180ºC).

An important step to get the most amazing peri peri chicken is to sear the skin of the chicken legs in a cast iron panbefore baking it. This will give you an extra crispy skin with more flavor.

seared chicken

How hot is peri peri chicken?

I would say it’s pretty spicy. There is not case denying this. The good news is that you can regulate the amount of heat by adding fewer piri piri chilis. I will add a bit more of paprika to compensate. 

What to serve with this chicken?

In Portugal, the classic way is with yellow rice and french fries. A healthier alternative is some green salad and sweet potato slices (like in the picture).

Other Portuguese Recipes

Peri Peri Chicken
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 
This authentic Portuguese peri peri chicken is an easy recipe that has a lot of spiciness and flavor in every bite. If you like Nando’s peri peri chicken you will love the original recipe way more.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Portuguese
Keyword: nando’s peri peri chicken, peri peri chicken, piri piri chicken, portuguese peri peri chicken
Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken whole legs (thigh and drumstick connected)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Peri peri sauce
  • 6 African bird eyes (or Thai pepper)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (or 2 tbsp of lime juice)
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • ½ tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºF)
  2. Heat a cast-iron pan and sear the chicken legs skin down until the skin is golden and crispy. Season the chicken with salt and pepper before searing. Be easy with the salt because the peri peri sauce has salt already.
  3. Blend all the ingredients for the peri peri sauce.
  4. Cover the chicken legs with the peri peri sauce and bake for 35 – 45 minutes until the chicken is fully done.

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